Top 10 oversight!

I’m sitting at SFO, after a whirlwind GDC 2008, going back over my notes and trying to remember all the good, bad and ugly stuff I saw and heard this past week. I’ll post a bunch of stuff about the show soon. But, first, there was a Really Big Thing I realized while I was out here.

Among other things, I attended a cocktail party Wednesday night, thrown by the Mouse House, where I ran into some really cool folks who got me talking about ten best lists and, in talking to them, I realized there was a horrible, horrible oversight in the top ten videogames list I posted last year.

So, no, this isn’t a post offering my list of the “top 10 oversights of all time.” It’s a post about an oversight in the list — an oversight I can’t allow to stand uncorrected.

When Electronic Arts acquired Origin, I met a guy named Rich Hilleman. If you don’t know who he is, you should — a hugely influential, if somewhat underappreciated guy, in my estimation. Anyway, Rich was my boss back then (and Richard Garriott’s and Chris Roberts’ and so on). And when I met him, he was working with Dani Bunten on a sequel to M.U.L.E., which about floored me since M.U.L.E. was (as I gushed to him then, and have gushed to him repeatedly ever since) ONE OF MY FAVORITE GAMES.

See where this is going?

As I spoke with folks at the Disney party, I started gushing to them about how M.U.L.E. was, and is, one of my favorite games. And I realized that I had completely spaced it when I put together that top 10 list a couple of months ago. So, as is my wont, I’m going to revise the list (and probably not for the last time!):


  1. Diablo
  2. Guitar Hero
  3. Half Life
  4. Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
  5. M.U.L.E.
  6. Suikoden
  7. Super Mario 64
  8. Tetris
  9. Ultima IV
  10. Warcraft II
  11. (Ico)
  12. (Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess — okay, so I cheated and went for 12 on the videogame list. So sue me.)

For those of you without eidetic memories (or those of you just too lazy to check the blog archives!), the game I dropped was Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time — and not just because M.U.L.E. slots right into my alphabetical list in the same spot as Ocarina… I dropped that game because, fun as it was, Link to the Past epitomizes everything wondrous about the Zelda games and I couldn’t bring myself to drop one of the other games, all of which offer uniquely joyful gameplay experiences.

As far as M.U.L.E. itself goes, what’s not to love? It offered immensely varied gameplay; it was multiplayer before multiplayer was cool; it offered ample opportunities to screw your friends; it inspired all sorts of games after it (though none have matched it); and the music alone can bring a smile to my face. (If you’re like me, you’re humming the jaunty M.U.L.E. theme right now!)

The fact that no one’s remade M.U.L.E. is amazing and appalling to me. All it needs is a graphical update, and some online multiplayer and you’re good to go. Come on EA or Ozark Softscape or whoever owns the rights nowadays. It’d be perfect for Xbox Live Arcade or something… A whole new generation of gamers needs M.U.L.E. They may not know it, but they do. And so do I. Great, great game…

20 Responses to “Top 10 oversight!”

  1. blueshrike Says:

    That’s a very good list! I don’t know where you stand on putting one of your own, Deus Ex on the list, but it would be on mine certainly. I’m a gamer since just before the 2600 came out, and I’d like to know personally, are these your favorite, or are these some juxtaposition of your favorite plus what you think are some of the most influential of all time?

    A couple on my list that aren’t on yours: Everquest (the original)… could be controversial but I stand by it 100% for many reasons. Not the perfect game, but in many ways to me, one of the best ever. Another is Ultima VI (just because it was the first that I was introduced to) but I have friends who share your Ultima IV view. I’d also add Heroes of Might & Magic II and Street Fighter II along with Deus Ex. Many, many more games would go on my list of top 100, and top 10 is almost too hard to do for me… almost but not quite. Add Monkey Island 1 / Maniac Mansion to my list as well.

  2. oldcastro Says:


    M.U.L.E. Online:


    They’re nothing like an Xbox Live Arcade port, but they’ll scratch that itch.

  3. wspector Says:

    The list really is my favorites, nothing more, nothing less. There are several ways to approach making lists like this — the desert island test (“if you could only play one game for the rest of your life…”), the enjoyment test (“playing this game to completion made me feel better than any other game has”) or the significance test (“this game influenced me… the medium… society more than any other game”).

    The list I posted was, as I say, my most enjoyable gaming experiences.

    At GDC this week, a couple of journalists asked me about my favorite games and, rather than giving them a single answer, I gave them three, as follows:

    Desert Island: Tetris (just never gets boring…)

    Enjoyment: Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (just felt good when I finished it — the first time and every time thereafter)

    Significance: Star Raiders and Ultima IV (both changed the way I think about games — and the kind of game I wanted to make for the rest of my life)

    Great comment, btw!


  4. jamessterrett Says:

    MULE *has* been remade, albeit unofficially, as “Space HoRSE” (HRSE for Holistic Robotic Slave Engineer”):

    It’s openly a direct clone.

  5. keenanweaver Says:

    Cool list. Here’s my top 20:

    1. Crusader: No Remorse (PC)
    2. Deus Ex (PC)
    3. Outlaws (PC)
    4. Ecco the Dolphin (Gen)
    5. Metal Gear Solid (PSX)
    6. Resident Evil 2 (PSX)
    7. Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Gen)
    8. Space Harrier (SMS)
    9. Sonic the Hedgehog (Gen)
    10. Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (PC)
    11. Super Mario Brothers 3 (NES)
    12. Half-Life (PC)
    13. DOOM (PC)
    14. Duke Nukem 3D (PC)
    15. God of Thunder (PC)
    16. Thief II: The Metal Age (PC)
    17. HeXen (PC)
    18. Operation Flashpoint (PC)
    19. Legend of Legaia (PSX… One of the most underrated games ever)
    20. Arcus Odyssey (Gen)

    I never really had that many consoles, unfortunately. I kinda regret not ever owning a SNES.

  6. zratchet Says:

    I’ll put my current top 12 (not necessarily in order)

    M.U.L.E. (C64 version)
    Pinball Construction Set (C64 version)
    Pikmin 2
    Super Monkey Ball (racing minigame)
    Anything by Will Wright
    Age of Empires Series (Especially 1, 2 and expansions)
    Rise of Nations
    Marble Blast
    Massive Assault

    Basically mostly strategy, RPG, sim/tycoon, puzzle, platform, and racing titles. 🙂

    Michael Lubker (zratchet)

    PS Warren, met you at GDC – you wanted to see some demos of mine, but I was out of laptop juice. When should we meet up? Nice to know you like M.U.L.E. and its music too. 😀

  7. zratchet Says:

    Also, there is Space Horse, but it wasn’t very good in my opinion.

  8. jonaswaever Says:

    I always find it really hard to make top 10 lists because there are so many great games, and I love them all, but I tend to list my 5 favoute games as Deus Ex, Torment, Knights of the Old Republic, Vampire: Bloodlines, and Thief: Deadly Shadows. You might suspect me of just sucking up, but that’s the actual list.

    It would be difficult for me to order it because it’s too hard to pick between especially Torment and Deus Ex for first place, but I’d probably go with Deus Ex because Torment is as text-based as it is. If only they’d had the resources and the tech to make it more animation-based back then. Then again, it’s GREAT text 😛

    Crysis and Mass Effect would be on there but end up further down the list because Crysis has a terrible plot and Mass Effect is… well, a really good game. Maybe it should be on there instead of KOTOR.

  9. fcifaldi Says:

    Hey Warren, it was good to see you (again) at the Preservation SIG roundtable.

    Just in case you weren’t aware, the last game Dani was working on was actually a sequel to M.U.L.E. Luckily George Sanger, who composed the music, managed to hang on to a beta copy:

    At one point I considered organizing an effort to put the binary on a reproduction Genesis cartridge and sell it at a classic gaming show with proceeds going to the American Lung Association, but then I realized I was in way over my head. It’s still an idea that pops its head out once in a while, though.

  10. jfromfrance Says:

    What is Twilight Princess doing here? I’m sorry but I just don’t get it.

    It’s VERY easy, short, the music, overall, is average; additionnal quests are nearly non existent, items you get are dubious, the interface is enormous and too centered, dialogs are common.

    There’s no way you can compare it with, say, Majora’s Mask.

  11. sorenjohnson Says:

    wow, I had no idea screens and info about Son of M.U.L.E. existed. Thanks for the tip… what a great game. M.U.L.E. would definitely earn a place on my list as well.

  12. wspector Says:

    Okay, this blog thing just became The Best Idea I Ever Had! Can’t believe all the ways it’s possible to play M.U.L.E. today! Thanks to everyone who sent M.U.L.E. links. I’m hugely grateful.

  13. vanexelfan Says:

    Firstly Spector, sorry I missed your post when you wrote it.

    Secondly.. What do you think it is about Diablo that makes the game enjoyable? It’s linear, has only one town, limited character options (every level 50 warrior is practically the same) .. yet the game is oddly enjoyable. . what’s the deal?


  14. thephotoshopwhore Says:

    My top 10 in ascending order:

    10. Freespace 2
    9. Twilight Princess
    8. Chrono Trigger
    7. One Must Fall: 2097
    6. Blade Runner
    5. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
    4. Pokemon Blue
    3. Abe’s Oddysee
    2. Thief Gold
    1. Deus Ex

    I’d be really tempted to put Vampire Bloodlines up there but it was a love/hate relationship. Anyway it’s great to see so many people reading your blog (and by definition, fans of your games) are into a really wide variety of other titles.

  15. wspector Says:

    Hey, for those of you who are into lists, I stumbled across a pretty cool website:

    Check it out.


  16. 9304f5651332 Says:



  17. DESIGNER NOTES » Blog Archive » M.U.L.E. Turns 25 Says:

    […] The Sims to her. Sid Meier inducted her (posthumously) into the AIAS Hall of Fame. Warren Spector revised his top 10 to include M.U.L.E. Raph Koster routinely references it as the perfect multiplayer game. The list […]

  18. strelok7 Says:

    1. Quest for Glory 2/4
    2. Planescape: Torment
    3. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    4. Suikoden 1/2
    5. Deus Ex
    6. Command and Conquer
    7. Wing Commander: Privateer
    8. X-COM: UFO Defense
    9. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
    10. Myth: The Fallen Lords
    11. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

  19. Settlers of Catan meets M.U.L.E. | Seize life! Says:

    […] the Catan question as well as the M.U.L.E. Catan hybrid when I found the blog where he mentions how M.U.L.E. was one of his favorite games ever.  Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  20. kothar0 Says:

    well I have to say that my list of games are short due to the fact that video games are just something i play to fill in the time when im not at school or with friends… but I will list them

    1. Deus Ex, DXMP and DXSP
    2. Deus Ex: IW (not as good as the first but its still fun to play)
    3. Project: Snowblind (as you can see i am a true fan of the whole franchise)
    4. COD4
    5. Urban Terror
    6. Resident Evil 4
    7. Doom 3
    8. Star Wars jedi academy

    and that all the games i have that i play anymore.

    on a side note Im really excited about Deus Ex 3 I am hoping it is as good as the first and it really surprised me to hear that you aren’t involved in the development of it.

    and I really do recomend that you play Deus Ex multiplayer it is still alive and very active I recomend the FGS servers 🙂


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